Saturday, November 1, 2014

How to Combat Cultural Programming, Part .5

A few weeks ago, I  quit my latest job.  My friends keep saying, "Oh you retired, how nice."  I didn't retire, I quit my latest job.  My job history is all about short-term, part-time, flexible-hour jobs (and low-paying and benefit-barren, but there is always a balance isn't there).  Currently, I have shifted my powerful focus to matters other than earning small paychecks and studying administrative frictions. Like learning to: play open G tuning on guitar, Bobby McGee on piano, making grape jelly, chicken and dumplings, etc. etc.  These are skills that will benefit the community when the Climate Apocalypse happens.  They also contradict take-out food, canned music, cultural programming etc.

A big focus of my new-formed down-time is spent getting my house in order (a personal favorite Jungian metaphor).  My house is tiny.  I had a tiny house before it became a national movement (1), in an effort to live cheap, keep possessions to a minimum (no storage space!), and be like Thoreau or the Dalai Lama.  Even living minimally, there is a LOT of stuff around here, and yes some of it is pure-dee junk (2).  It requires thoughtfulness to know what is needed and what is wanted, and how those sometimes combine.  Thoughtfulness is another project I am working on in my not-retirement. The cultural programming of More Is Better is being fought on the beaches and the streets at 725 Irvin.

Within my tiny house, I strive for the idea that Everything Counts. Or it's outta here. This dovetails with the habits of old people to treat everything in their life as momentous and important.  Take my Mom as a perfect example of this phenomenon.  When moving from her home of 60 years to a senior condo, she literally snatched an empty, blank envelope from my hand as I was in the act of tossing it.

"I might need that,"  she said.

This was an extreme act of respecting possessions.  But I can see it happening.

Everything, since my recent abandonment of hourly wages and manufactured deadlines, has shifted into sharper focus.  It's nice.  For example, I'm getting the left-hand notes on the piano.  The mysterious science of sealing jelly jars in a water bath has been revealed. My tiny kitchen is becoming more efficient (slowly), the tiny fridge is filled more leanly, the tiny tiny bathroom is staying cleaner longer. What Is Important seems more noticeable. And on a second visit to the tiny john today, I noted that the toilet had not yet been flushed.  I saved 6 gallons of water today.  So far. I'm respecting water possession.

And speaking of conserving water:

Matt Damon famously addressed the whole toilet flushing issue as he brings the weight of his stardom to water shortage issues around the world.  Its a small place to start, but that old "one small step for man" saying is still true.  His viral video for the toilet is at :   His organization for affordable clean water is   He is so cool.

And speaking of toilets:  a current movement in the U.S. is to use human urine for nitrogen fertilizer, thereby eliminating need for personal use of chemically created fertilizers, and thereby reducing fertilizer pollutants to water.  This overuse of manufactured fertilizers includes Lake Eerie/ Toledo's recent infamous water catastrophe:
The culprit for the algae growth in Lake Eerie which contaminated the Toledo water system, forcing a shutdown, was excess manufactured fertilizer, dumped and run-off into the lake.  What to do to eliminate need for manufactured fertilizer with manufactured nitrogen?

 Start today.  Make your own.

My previous post (The Never-Ending Garden, #72)  mentioned the growing Pee-Cycle movement in the U.S.  I referenced a phrase, which the blogger from Northwest Edibles used:  we need to rethink cultural programming.  That's a great phrase.  The media in the U.S. avoids facing mortality, and doesn't talk about pee in an enlightened way. We are culturally programmed to follow this non-reference strategy. 

Here's an ice bucket challenge.  Culturally un-program yourself from something this year.  I've been working on downsizing living space and possessions for about a decade.  I'm now quite taken with the whole pee-cycle (and related issues of body, resources, and climate change). 

Take the Cultural Programming Challenges.
Don't flush the toilet.
Water the garden with your personal self (diluted if on the veggies, full strength on compost piles).

1.  Tiny House Movement is largely about small houses that can be moved around, and/or situated on small plots of land.  I like to think of it as a backlash to extremist housing developments and space/material squandering, too.  Americans have become fond of BIG houses, but I think we are re-thinking it, like so many other parts of our wild and crazy 300-year adolescence.

2. Excellent information on using pee for fertilizer.  Check post listings.

3. Ways to conserve water on a personal level: